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What is arthroscopic surgery and what happens after the intervention?

Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure that allows the surgeon to have a complex and detailed perspective of the joint without making large incisions in the skin. It is used to diagnose and treat a wide range of orthopedic problems.

Arthroscopic surgery (arthroscopy) is a minimally invasive medical procedure in which an arthroscope is used to visualize, diagnose, and treat several joint-related conditions.

An arthroscope is a small medical instrument equipped with a high-definition, fiber optic camera, magnifying lenses, and light which is connected to a monitor. The device is inserted into the joint through a small incision of 4 mm. The surgeon can thus observe the inside of the joint by examining the images displayed on the screen and subsequently diagnose the occurring disease by assessing the level of damage inside the joint.

Surgical instruments can also be attached to the arthroscope in order to perform different surgical procedures under anesthesia, such as:

  • repairing damaged tendons, ligaments and cartilage
  • removing damaged sections of cartilage, bone or inflamed tissue
  • draining excessive synovial fluid which lubricates the joint

Conditions that can be treated by undergoing arthroscopy are arthrofibrosis, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, bone spurs, spinal disc herniation, joint deformities, synovitis, and Baker's cyst, as well as several types of arthritis.

After the arthroscopy is completed, the surgeon applies a sterile dressing on the incision. Stitches are rarely necessary, as the incisions are very small. Ice packs can be used afterward to reduce swelling.

Following surgery, you will be moved to the recovery room for several hours. Pain-relieving medication might not be needed at all. In most cases, you can go home on the same day or the next day after the procedure. Your surgeon will explain to you how to take care of the incisions, what activities you are allowed to perform, and what you should avoid. The rehabilitation program includes physical exercises to speed up recovery and improve the function of the joint.

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/